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Jack Teagarden (1905 - 1964)


Jack Teagarden was born on 20 August 1905, not 29 August, an error perpetuated from some of the “Who’s Who In Jazz” books published some years ago. His mother, who was born on 31 January 1890, in Electra, Texas, excelled in music and gave all her children their musical education. Jack’s sister Norma was born in 1911 and brothers Charlie and Clois were born in 1913 and 1915 respectively. The Teagarden family was exceptional in jazz history, as all four children become professional musicians. On 4 November 1918, Charles Teagarden, Sr., died as a result of the influenza epidemic which had gripped much of the world. The family, now with little means of support, moved to Chappell, Nebraska to stay with relatives. Although Jack and his mother had played piano and trombone duets in their hometown of Vernon, it was in Chappell they found themselves in greater demand for performances at social events and accompaniment for silent films at the local movie theatre.

By 1919 Teagarden was an accomplished musician with an urge to travel, and so to relieve financial pressure on his family he moved to San Angelo, Texas to stay with his Uncle Joe Teagarden. His uncle, also a musician, took Jack into his band, and both became members of the San Angelo municipal band. Eventually Teagarden realized that the nightlife in nearby San Antonio held a lot more excitement than that of the small town band in San Angelo, and it wasn’t long before he took up residence in San Antonio.

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